AthletesCAN is proud to announce that Vancouver will host the 2023 AthletesCAN Forum and 46th Canadian Sport Awards from Sept. 8-10.
This marks the return of AthletesCAN’s annual signature event to an in-person format, after being held virtually for the last three years. It will also be the first Forum held in Western Canada since the 2014 edition in Calgary and the first one held in British Columbia and Greater Vancouver since Richmond B.C. hosted in 2009. In light of significant reforms announced last month across the Canadian sport system by Minister of Sport, the Hon. Pascale St-Onge, this year’s Forum theme will focus on Athlete Governance.
The annual AthletesCAN Forum is the largest and most inclusive gathering of Canada’s national team athlete leaders outside of competition. It brings together Canada’s high-performance athletes and sport leaders to learn about the sport system, develop leadership skills, share ideas and network through interactive workshops, seminars and presentations.
Made possible in part by the generous contribution of Richmond Sport Hosting
Session 1: Reshaping Governance in the Modern Era
Chris de Sousa Costa
Chris is a former karate national team athlete, competing in the men’s kumite +84kg category from 2004-15. During his athletic career, he was an 11-time Canadian champion, three-time Canadian male athlete of the year, three-time Commonwealth champion, two-time Pan-American champion, three-time North American champion, and winner of the US Open. Chris retired from competition after the 2015 Pan American Games in his hometown of Toronto, where he was team captain.
Chris has extensive experience in governance and advisory work, having been the Athlete Representative on Karate Canada’s Board of Directors for nine consecutive years, and is an advisor on their High Performance Committee. Chris also created and served as Chair of Karate Canada’s inaugural Athlete Council. Chris’ Board experience included leading the overhaul of the national team’s athlete agreement, ensuring athlete rights were protected and striking a balance between the needs of athletes and the NSO.
Professionally, Chris is an insurance executive at a national brokerage and advisory firm, providing risk transfer solutions for professional service firms across Canada. Prior to that, Chris worked at the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance carrier, underwriting management liability risk for the directors and officers of private and non-profit entities.
Chris completed his Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Communication Studies from York University and his Graduate Diploma in Business (GDB) program from Queen’s University through a scholarship between Game Plan and the Smith School of Business at Queen’s. Following his GDB, he spent three years at the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance carrier, providing risk transfer solutions for private and non-profit entities within management liability. Currently, he is completing his Master of Business Administration with a specialization in innovation and entrepreneurship at Queen’s and is the current Chief of Staff of the Queen’s University Alternative Assets Fund – Canada’s first student-directed portfolio of alternative strategies, which holds over $600,000 in assets under management.
Amanda Fowler is the award-winning Supervising Lawyer of the Sport Solution Clinic at Western’s Faculty of Law. Amanda started her sports law career when she represented a college baseball player who was drafted to a major league team. Shortly after, she began practicing sports law by representing Olympic, high-performance and amateur athletes in various sport disputes, including team non-selections, improper carding nominations, human rights and doping infractions. Amanda has successfully represented Canadian and international athletes at the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada and the Court of Arbitration for Sport. One of her most memorable cases was being involved with the Caster Semenya appeal.
In 2017, Amanda was a pro bono lawyer for the Invictus Games in Toronto. In 2022, she was named one of Canada’s leading sports and entertainment lawyers by Who’s Who Legal for the second consecutive year, and also took home the Lexology Client Choice Award in Sports & Entertainment Law, which is recognized within both the United States and Canada and internationally.
She continues to advise professional athletes, sport organization and teams.
Dasha is a former Canadian national team athlete in the sport of taekwondo, and a long-time advocate and trusted advisor to both athletes and sports organizations. She has held various positions in sport, including as the President of AthletesCAN, a member of the Pan Am Sports Legal Commission, and as a board member of the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada. She was the Ombudsperson for Team Canada at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Dasha obtained her psychology degree at the University of Toronto, and holds a legal degree from Western University, where she is now an adjunct professor of Sports Law.
Dasha is a Partner at Aird & Berlis LLP in Toronto, with experience as a labour, employment and sports lawyer. Her wide-ranging practice involves contractual, policy, grievance, civil and commercial matters, as well as collective bargaining. She regularly appears as counsel before a variety of courts and tribunals in Ontario, and has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada. Dasha frequently conducts policy, ethical and statute-driven investigations for a variety of clients.
Josh Vander Vies
Josh made his Paralympic Games debut at Athens 2004, won a bronze medal in individuals at the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, and is a 2012 Paralympic bronze medallist in pairs.
Off the playing court, the Sarnia, Ont. native who is now a long-time resident of Vancouver, has been heavily involved in athlete leadership both during and after his competitive career. He was elected by his fellow boccia players to the International Boccia Committee as an athlete representative. He also was chair of the Canadian Paralympic Athletes’ Council from 2008 to 2012 and was a member of the Canadian Paralympic Committee Board of Directors.
An electric wheelchair user born without the majority of his arms and legs, Vander Vies represented Canadian Olympic, Paralympic, and national team athletes as a director, and eventually president, of AthletesCAN from 2010 to 2017. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, he acted as Team Canada’s Ombudsman. He continued his support of Canadian athletes through 2021 as the assistant chef de mission for the Canadian Paralympic Team at the postponed Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. In 2023, he was named co-chef de mission with Karolina Wisniewska for the 2023 Parapan American Games in Santiago and the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris.
Vander Vies currently works as a lawyer in Vancouver as a sole practitioner at Versus Law Corporation where he practices not-for-profit and charity law. He has appeared in British Columbia Provincial Court, British Columbia Supreme Court, the Federal Court of Appeal, and the Commonwealth Games Federation Court.
A member of The Honourable Carla Qualtrough’s Disability Advisory Group, Vander Vies also recently concluded work as a member of the federal Employment Equity Act Review Task Force
Session 2: Personalizing Your Journey
Shai Dubey is an instructor in Negotiation at Queen’s Faculty of Law, as well as teaching courses in negotiations, cross-cultural management, ethics, domestic and international business law and entrepreneurship at the Smith School of Business. He is the academic director for project courses in various MBA programs as well as the MIB program.
Upon completing law school in 1994, Shai articled and practiced law with two major law firms in Toronto, specializing in corporate commercial law with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and aviation. In 1999, Shai became the Chief Operating Officer, General Counsel and a member of the Board of Directors of Quicklaw Inc., the leading provider of legal online data base services to the legal profession in Canada. In 2002, upon the sale of Quicklaw to a multi-national corporation Shai returned to the private practice of law. In 2006, Shai joined Queen’s on a full time basis.